Peaches have got to be my all time favorite fruit. While I like pears in the fall and cherries and apricots I always long for those lazy summer days and fresh peaches. A few weeks ago Norman started talking about peach ice cream and how his mother used to churn it from the peaches they got from the trees on their farm. Of course this stirred memories of my own childhood when I would go with my parents or grandfather to pick bushels of fresh peaches from the local orchards. It seemed like we would pick tons of them and then my mom would can them for winter and we of course would eat them until we would almost burst. The rest went into cobblers, crisps, pies, brandied peaches and of course ice cream. I remember when my dad would get 0ut the old ice cream churn, fill it with ice and my mom would make the custard and pour it in and we would sit on the porch while my dad churned and I would sit by watching and adding salt to the ice. I never quite understood as a child why it was a necessary step but it became my job to add the salt. That ice cream was so good we could hardly wait for it to freeze so we could dig in.
Normans talk set me on a quest to find some peach ice cream. When we were in France I remember going into any local market and finding it along with apricot, currant, hazelnut and grapefruit. Well, off I went in search of this ice cream and no matter how many stores I went to I could not find any. There was a glut of mint chocolate chip, rocky road, moose tracks, swirls of all kinds, confetti and cookies and cupcake and bubblegum but not a spoonful of peach anywhere. Even Baskin-Robbins, Coldstone Creamery and the local mom and pop ice cream stores just looked at me and shrugged when I asked. When those beautiful, golden, ripe and juicy peaches started arriving at the farmers market I knew exactly what I needed to do and into the kitchen I went to finally end my quest. Fresh peach ice cream and peach pie were on the menu.
For the ice cream I just poached the fruit, peeled it and then dices it. Then I mixed it with sugar and a bit of lemon juice and set it in the refrigerator to release the juices for about 2 hours. The custard base is simply eggs, sugar, milk and cream. I whipped the eggs until they were fluffy, added a but of sugar and whipped to blend, then added the cream, milk and reserved peach juice and whipped it again to blend. Then it went into the ice cream freezer and I processed it until it was almost completely finished, then I added the fruit, processed for a few minutes to distribute the fruit and then put the lot into the freezer to firm.
For the pie, I used my mom’s age old pie crust recipe which is simply flour, shortening, milk and white vinegar. The trick as with all pastry is to handle it gently and let it rest. I dived the dough into 2 disks, wrapped them in plastic wrap and chilled them for about an hour. I rolled out the first disk, fit it into the pie plate, trimmed the excess dough and chilled it for another hour. I rolled the second disk into a rectangle, cut it into strips, put the strips on a cookie sheet and put them in the freezer to firm. While the dough was chilling, I peeled and sliced the fruit, added sugar and a bit of lemon juice and let them sit to release the juices. When I was ready to assemble the pie, I drained the fruit reserving the juice. I combined the drained fruit with a bit more sugar, cornstarch, and some of the reserved peach juice. The fruit went into the chilled pie shell and the lattice top was put on, trimmed and crimped. The pie was brushed with beaten egg white, sprinkled with sugar and baked until done.
I love how the sugar gives it that slightly over browned edge and just looking at it you know that it is home-made. The pie and the ice cream were totally delicious and a very welcome end to weekend dinner in the hot summer weather.